Flowers of the mineral world, pieces from heaven…

Gemstone Types

Another of June's birthstones is Alexandrite. The stone is named after Prince Alexander of Russia (which is why the "A" in Alexandrite is capitalized), who was to later become Czar Alexander II in 1855). Discovered in 1839 on the day of the prince's birthday, Alexandrite was found in an emerald mine in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Because it is a relatively recent discovery, there has been little time for myth and superstition to build around this unusual stone. Sri Lanka is the main source of Alexandrite today, and the stones have also been found in Brazil, Malagasy, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Burma.

The Ancient Greeks believed that whomever wore this gemstone would be protected from the intoxicating effects of wine and the name is derived from the Greek word "amethustos" meaning, "not drunk". Amethyst, the birthstone for February, is a variety of quartz and occurs in transparent light to dark purple. A favorite of the Art Nouveau era, the most notable reason for the amethyst’s popularity in jewelry design has been the wide availability and reasonable price. The two main sources of amethyst are Brazil and Zambia, although other deposits have been found in Russia, Sri-Lanka, Mexico, and Arizona.

Latin for seawater, this beautiful gemstone inspires visions of the transparent azure blue waters of the Caribbean. As the birthstone for March, aquamarine differs greatly from its most famous relative, emerald. However, while emeralds consistently have visible inclusions, aquamarines are almost always flawless. Aquamarine has been credited with providing courage, curing laziness, and quickening the intellect. Brazil is the most prolific supplier of aquamarine today, with the natural color from this area leaning towards bluish-green. Other sources of aquamarine include Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Russia, and the island of Sri Lanka.

Carnelian originates from the latin word cornum, the cornel cherry, because of the close color resemblance. It was found as early as 1800 B.C. in Crete and was used for decorative arts. Romans also used carnelian to make engraved gems for signet or seal rings. The Egyptians used it to create beautiful beads and amulets.Carnelian is thought to boost the energy of the wearer and protect them from bad vibrations. Carnelian is a great accessory to your fall collection or earthy-look pairing well with hints of dark blue. Carnelian is a variety of the silica mineral chalcedony and is brownish-red in color.

A birthstone for November, citrine is the lovely yellowish gem belonging to the quartz species of gemstones. Its name is derived from its lemon-yellow color and the French word "citron", meaning lemon. Available in a range of colors, the finest quality citrine is medium to dark in tone, vivid in intensity, and yellowish-orange in color. It is plentiful in nature and found principally in Brazil, Bolivia and Spain. The warm hues are reminiscent of the sun, health and vitality, and represent an incredible value for those who appreciate its colors. 

April's birthstone is the diamond. The stone’s sparkling fire has held us spell-bound for centuries, inspiring rich, passionate myths of romance, intrigue, power, greed, and magic. Ancient Hindus, finding diamonds washed out of the ground after thunderstorms, believed they were created by bolts of lightning. In our place and time, diamonds are a symbols of enduring love, and often grace engagement rings. There are many kinds of diamonds: transparent, translucent or opaque; ranging from colorless to sooty black, with many colors in between. Found in their natural form, diamonds can appear quite unimpressive. It is only when they are cut and polished by skilled craftsmen, such that the light entering it is reflected and refracted as best possible, only then is their hidden beauty revealed. 

The name emerald is derived from the Greek word Smaragdos meaning "green stone.” The birthstone for May, emerald is the most prized and precious variety of the gemstone group known as beryl. Most of the world's emeralds are mined in Columbia, Brazil and Zambia. Under magnification the internal characteristics in an emerald, which include liquid bubbles, gas bubbles, internal stress fractures, and foreign crystals, form a virtual garden within the gemstone. Most natural emeralds contain a variety of these internal inclusions, commonly referred to as "jarden", which is French for “garden.” 

The name “garnet” is derived from the Latin word for grain, because of the round shape of the crystals, as well as the Greek word "granatum" for the pomegranate seed. The most common garnets are the red varieties. Garnet is the traditional birthstone for the month of January; however, red need not be your color of choice if you were born in the first month of the year. Other more interesting gems from the garnet family, being used in jewelry today, consist of pinkish, orange tones (Malaia), exhibiting a variety of colors that have the ability to change tones, depending on the light source, and are known as color change garnets. 

Jade has been treasured in China as the royal gemstone since at least 2950 BC. Thought to preserve the body after death, jade can be found in emperors’ tombs from thousands of years ago. To this day, many people believe that jade will protect them from harm. Jade is known for its vivid, green color, though it also comes in lavender, pink, yellow and white. The most common shape is the flat, donut-shaped disc called a pi, which is commonly worn as a necklace. Wearing a stunning piece of jade jewelry is sure to make anyone green with envy.

Used to create in paintings the beautiful ocean and sky blues during the Renaissance, Lapis Lazuli is a colored gemstone that has been revered for centuries. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to keep the limbs healthy and to free the soul from error, envy and fear. Its name means “blue stone” and could not be more accurate. Lapis Lazuli is a dark blue, microcrystalline rock that often sparkles with golden pyrite inclusions. Once you cast your sights on this gem, you’re sure to be entranced by its beauty. 

A jewel named after the moon ought to be intriguing, and this June birthstone certainly is. Jewelry enthusiasts will know that the moonstone isn't a recent discovery. It has existed for centuries and was even found buried in early Egyptian tombs. The sheen, opaque surface is due to the phenomenon called adularescence. It results in a glow that looks akin to a moon lying still under the calm of the ocean. This very appearance has also led to the birth of numerous legends about the moonstone. Today, this gem is slowly climbing the ladder of popularity as a beautiful choice for those who seek subtle elegance. 

Morganite’s subtle color is caused by traces of manganese. Like many gems found in pegmatites, morganite can form large crystals. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., includes two faceted gems weighing 236 cts. and 250 cts. in its collection. Although morganite is rarer than aquamarine, large cut stones are readily available on today’s market. That’s probably because morganite hasn’t been promoted to the jewelry-buying public nearly as widely as aquamarine or emerald. Most of the morganite on the market comes from pegmatite mines in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Afghanistan, Mozambique, Namibia, and the US have been minor and inconsistent sources. While it’s only a minor producer today, the original Madagascar deposit still sets the standard for the best material. 

The name “opal” is derived from an Indian word for "stone" and they are divided into three basic groups with physical properties that vary considerably: precious, fire, and common. The precious opal boasts an attractive opalescence; the fire opal, commonly referred to as the “Mexican Opal,” is transparent with a warm body color; and finally, the common opal is famous for its opaque sheen. An optional birthstone for the month of October, opals are relatively soft gemstones that require careful attention to maintain their appealing qualities. When purchasing opal jewelry it is important to discuss their proper care with a gemologist, to insure that their beauty will be maintained and passed on from generation to generation.

The pearl is unique in the world of gemstones, as it is the only gemstone that is formed within a living creature. Known as the birthstone for the month of June, pearls are truly a treasured gift of the sea and revered for their colors, shapes, sizes and luster. Today, the pearls from the Japanese Akoyah oysters are becoming the most prized, as unfavorable biological and environmental conditions have reduced the availability of larger and finer quality pearls from the salt waters of Japan. Similar to the way any gemstone is judged, the value of any pearl will depend on rarity, beauty, size, color, luster and degree of perfection. 

Some jewelry historians are convinced that some, if not all, of the emeralds Cleopatra was famous for wearing were actually peridots mined from what is now known as St. John's Island in the Red Sea, about 34 miles off the coast of Egypt. Peridot is a member of the olivine family of gemstones and is the birthstone for August. This beautiful lime-green gemstone depends largely on body mass for its concentration of color and, hence, its beauty. Unfortunately, larger stones have become so rare that the green hue for which this gem is most praised is seldom seen today. Much of today's peridot comes from Arizona, however, stones rarely exceed 3 carats in size. 

With hues ranging from bold to subtle, pink can be demure, pretty, and playful, all at the same time. That is probably the reason why the delicate and pink-hued rose quartz never fails to draw attention. This variety of quartz is translucent in nature. It can be cloudy, grainy, or hazy in appearance. Due to its alluring colors and hardness, it is used both as a gemstone and as an ornamental stone. Rose quartz is regarded as a soothing gemstone that promotes love, warmth, and emotional healing. That is why it is also known as the Heart Stone or the Love Stone. 

Ruby, "the King of Gems" and birthstone for July, gets its name from the Latin word Rubeus, meaning red. It was discovered around 1800 that Ruby, as well as sapphire, belonged to the same mineral group, or species, called corundum. Prior to that date, both red spinel and garnet were thought to be, or were referred to, as Ruby. In fact, many of the most prominent red gemstones in England's Royal Jewels are magnificent red spinels which, for years, were thought to have been rubies. Ruby is mined throughout Southeast Asia and while the majority is found in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), many exquisite gems also are found in Sri Lanka and Africa. 

The birthstone for the month of September, the name Sapphire comes from the Greek word "Sappheiros", meaning blue. However, sapphires are formed in nature in a literal rainbow of colors, ranging from very light to very dark blue, bluish green, yellow, brown, pink, violet, slightly reddish orange, and a pinkish-orange that is referred to as "padparadscha". Sapphire will sometimes occur in nature in such a way whereby numerous needle-like inclusions within the gemstone are oriented in just the right angles within the stone, to produce a phenomenon that is called "asterism". As such a six-pointed star will appear to float just beneath the surface of the gemstone when subjected to an incandescent light source. 

Centuries ago, Sanskrit writings referred to Spinel as the daughter of the Ruby. The bright red color of Spinel is so similar to that of the Ruby that the two are often confused with one another. Spinels are actually rarer than Rubies, but unlike Rubies, they can sometimes be found in large sizes. Spinel also comes in beautiful blues, though these are extremely rare. Believed to protect the owner from harm, to reconcile differences and to soothe away sadness, the Spinels true appeal is its range of rich, brilliant colors and affordability. 

Tanzanite is a form of zoisite, which was named tanzanite due to its original discovery in Tanzania in 1967 and, to date, it is not found in any other place in the world. The introduction and popularity of the gemstone can be attributed to Tiffany and Company, who exclusively marketed the gemstone in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The American Gem Society has designated tanzanite as an option for the traditional December birthstones, blue zircon and turquoise. Tanzanite is one of the most popular blue gemstones available today and while it has the beauty, rarity, and durability to rival most colored gemstones, your tanzanite needs slightly more care and attention than due other harder gemstones, such as sapphire. 

The name topaz was probably derived from the ancient island of Topazios in the Red Sea. In ancient times all yellow, brown, and sometimes green gemstones were called "topaz". Commonly, one of the orangey or golden colors of topaz is worn as the traditional birthstone for November. Topaz, however, can be found in a rich rainbow of colors with the most valuable being "Imperial" topaz and pink topaz. Due the abundance of blue topaz, along with its captivating beauty and low price, it has become an ideal replacement option for aquamarine as the birthstone for March. 

Tourmaline, like garnet and sapphire, occurs in almost every color of the rainbow from soft pastel tones to bold and brilliant colors that excite the senses. The people of ancient Ceylon referred to these beautiful gems as "turmali", the Sinhalese word for many colors.The pink variety is often used as the birthstone for October. Not only does tourmaline occur in such a spectacular range of color, some of these colors occur in a single gemstone and are called "bi-color" or "parti-colored" tourmalines. In fact, one color combination known as "watermelon" tourmaline, occurs with a pink center and green perimeter. Tourmaline is mined in many areas of the world including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa and the United States. 

December's primary birthstone, turquoise is considered by some to be a symbol of good fortune and success, believed to bring prosperity to its wearer. It's name is believed to originate from the French phrase "pierre turquoise" meaning "Turkish stone" because turquoise was brought to Europe by Venetian merchants who first acquired it in Turkish bazaars. It is also considered by some as a love charm. When received as a gift, the turquoise symbolizes a pledge of affection. Turquoise is a relatively soft gemstone, and can be easily scratched and broken. Hard, relatively non-porous compact stones have the best appearance because the stone can be finely polished. 

The alternate birthstone for December is the zircon. Its name is probably derived from the Arabic words "zar" and "gun", meaning "gold" and "color". The gemstone is found in a wide range of colors, and possess great brilliance, fire, and clarity.. The most prized zircon is the red gemstone, which is rare. The pure intense blue and sky blue varieties are also highly valued, while the colorless, orange, brown and yellow stones are less expensive. Zircon is a brittle stone, easily broken with a well-placed knock, due to internal stresses in the crystal caused by radiation damage and heat treatment. But despite its frail disposition, the stone is still highly valued because of its stunning beauty.

Synthetics -Before purchasing any fine colored gemstone there are things you should know besides just the weight, the beauty, and the price that you are going to pay. So that you do not make a costly mistake, it will be worth your while to work with one of our experts to help you make your decision. If a colored gemstone is desirable and has significant value, you can be sure that there is a synthetic counterpart to that gemstone available in the marketplace. Synthetic does not mean just a look-alike gemstone, although there are those as well. Synthetic means that the laboratory-grown gem is a chemical and crystalline duplicate of the natural gemstone, and usually it takes a gemologist, with the aid of special gemological equipment, to determine the difference. Synthetics have natural-looking inclusions, which resemble those found in their natural counterpart.

Enhancements -Over many centuries, man has experimented with, and perfected, countless methods to improve upon the natural properties of gemstones. These techniques are known as "enhancements". These methods reflect upon man's desire to draw upon the truest and purest color and brilliance that a gemstone has to offer. The art of cutting a gemstone is the most basic enhancement method necessary to fully display the beauty of a fine gem. However, there are many fascinating methods by which we have demonstrated our ability to draw maximum color, luster, clarity, and brilliance from nature's most precious gifts. There are many recognized and accepted enhancement techniques and there are many that are not. A basic understanding of these enhancement techniques will add to your appreciation of the beauty, durability and value of the colored gemstone you already own, or are planning to purchase now or in the future.